Michael O’Brien set for stern test in Donegal

Top seed and leader of the Valvoline Irish Forest Rally Championship Michael O’Brien (Ford Focus WRC) can expect a stern test in tomorrow’s Donegal Forest Rally, the second round of the campaign.

Michael O’Brien set for stern test in Donegal

The Cork native had a somewhat easy victory in the opening round in Carrick-on-Suir a few weeks ago, where all his main rivals had troubled outings.

With former champion co-driver James O’Brien alongside him, O’Brien will have to push hard from the start of the six stages near Pettigoe. The Antrim/Cork combination of Desi Henry and Liam Moynihan are set to drive a Mitsubishi as opposed to the Subaru WRC that netted them the runner-up spot in Carrick, where they recovered strongly following a problematic opening loop.

Having missed the opening round, Monaghan’s Josh Moffett is unsure which car he will drive. “I’m hoping that the Class 20 Mitsubishi will be ready. If not, I will drive the Group N Mitsubishi. The championship was very much part of the plan at the beginning of the season but after driving the Fiesta WRC I’m not so sure.”

Moffett also wants to continue with the Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac Championship as well as rounds of the European Rally Championship, both of whom dovetail on the forthcoming Circuit of Ireland.

Meanwhile, Enda McNulty (Subaru) is seeded fourth ahead of Waterford’s Andrew Purcell (Mitsubishi) and his Cork co-driver Liam Brennan, who will be determined to bounce back after retiring from the opening round. Purcell is probably the favourite but needs an untroubled run. The top 10 also features the Mitsubishis of Gerard Lucey, Niall Henry, Andrew Fanning, Darren McKelvey and Ashley Dickson.

In the two-wheel drive category, the principals are Adrian Hetherington, Mickey Conlon, Paul Barrett and James Coleman, all in Escorts, with the impressive Kevin Eves (Peugeot 208 R2) favourite to win the Juniors. Based at the Allingham Arms in Bundoran, the opening stage is at 11.40am.

The final round of Motorsport Ireland National Navigation Trial Championship takes place in Monaghan tomorrow night. With the destiny of the overall title already decided, the various categories are still down for decision.

Based at the Aughnamullen GAA Club, the first car away is at 9pm tomorrow night.

Although the Tribunal of Inquiry set up to consider certain matters arising from last year’s Wexford Rally recommended “the Wexford Motor Club should take some form of action against all of its members who were involved in this disgraceful episode, except for those seven members of the club who have already been called to account for their actions,” the Wexford club has yet to receive official correspondence on the issue. Club chairman and former president of Motorsport Ireland John Naylor told the Irish Examiner: “We can’t deal with it as we have heard nothing formal from Motorsport Ireland.”

Naylor also clarified the position in relation to Pat O’Dowd, who was clerk of the course of the Wexford event for many years.

“It was always Pat’s intention to step down after the 2104 rally- irrespective of anything. He is the first FIA Technical Delegate in the Wexford Club and he will be concentrating on that.”

The Tuthill Porsche 911, normally driven by French ace Francois Delecour, will be campaigned by Northern Ireland’s Robert Woodside in the Discover Northern Ireland Circuit of Ireland (April 2-4).

Circuit of Ireland event director Bobby Willis said: “This is fantastic news. I’m delighted for Robert Woodside and his co-driver Allan Harryman. Such an iconic car is sure to attract even more spectators to each of the stages.”

SATURDAY: Donegal Forest Stages Rally, Bundoran. 10.30am; Monaghan

Navigation Trial, Aughnamullen GAA Club. 9pm.

SUNDAY: Cavan Autocross, Latton Quarry, Cootehill. 10.30am; Munster 4x4 Trial, Scarriff Quarry, Ballinacurra. 11am.

More in this section

CourtsValvoline Irish Forest RallyMotorsportMichael O’BrienPlace: DonegalPlace: CorkPlace: Carrick-on-SuirPlace: PettigoePlace: CarrickPlace: WaterfordPlace: Allingham ArmsPlace: BundoranPlace: MonaghanPlace: Aughnamullen GAA ClubPlace: Northern IrelandPlace: Latton QuarryPlace: CootehillPlace: BallinacurraPerson: Michael OPerson: rsquo;BrienPerson: BrienPerson: James O’BrienPerson: O’BrienPerson: Desi HenryPerson: Liam MoynihanPerson: Josh MoffettPerson: MoffettPerson: Enda McNultyPerson: Andrew PurcellPerson: Liam BrennanPerson: PurcellPerson: Gerard LuceyPerson: Niall HenryPerson: Andrew FanningPerson: Darren McKelveyPerson: Ashley DicksonPerson: Adrian HetheringtonPerson: Mickey ConlonPerson: Paul BarrettPerson: James ColemanPerson: Kevin EvesPerson: John NaylorPerson: NaylorPerson: Pat O’DowdPerson: PatPerson: Francois DelecourPerson: Robert WoodsidePerson: Bobby WillisPerson: Allan HarrymanEvent: Valvoline Irish Forest Rally ChampionshipEvent: Donegal Forest RallyEvent: Clonakilty Blackpudding Irish Tarmac ChampionshipEvent: European Rally ChampionshipEvent: Circuit of IrelandEvent: Motorsport Ireland National Navigation Trial ChampionshipEvent: Discover Northern Ireland CircuitEvent: Donegal Forest Stages RallyEvent: Monaghan Navigation TrialEvent: Cavan AutocrossEvent: Munster 4x4 TrialEvent: Scarriff QuarryOrganisation: Ford Focus WRCOrganisation: MitsubishiOrganisation: Subaru WRCOrganisation: SubaruOrganisation: MitsubishisOrganisation: PeugeotOrganisation: Tribunal of InquiryOrganisation: Wexford RallyOrganisation: Wexford Motor ClubOrganisation: Wexford ClubOrganisation: Motorsport IrelandOrganisation: Irish ExaminerOrganisation: FIAOrganisation: of Ireland
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